Projects / Programmes source: ARRS

Influence of climate change on cambial activity, xylogenesis, wood structure and productivity of beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and Norway spruce (Picea abies L.) in Slovenia

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
4.01.01  Biotechnical sciences  Forestry, wood and paper technology  Forest - forestry 

Code Science Field
B430  Biomedical sciences  Sylviculture, forestry, forestry technology 

Code Science Field
4.01  Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences  Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 
Cambium, cell production, xylem, phloem, wood anatomy, wood structure, provenances, phenotypic plasticity, adaptive capacity, dendroecology
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (1)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publications
1.  29428  PhD Peter Prislan  Forestry, wood and paper technology  Principal Researcher  2016 - 2017  308 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publications
1.  0404  Slovenian Forestry Institute  Ljubljana  5051673000  10,953 
Climate change scenarios for Slovenia predict a rise in temperature, uneven distribution of precipitation and more frequent droughts and extreme rainfall events. Recent climatic trends show pronounced warming in summer and spring, which is almost twice as high as in the neighbouring countries. European beech (Fagus slyvatica L.) and Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) are the most common and widely distributed tree species in Slovenian forests and therefore highly ecologically and economically important. Studies about the influence of changing environmental conditions on species distribution and forest productivity are thus essential for appropriate and efficient forest management planning. Numerous phenological studies demonstrated a shift in spring and autumn leaf phenophases, resulting in a longer vegetation period due to increasing temperatures. How such changes affect the radial growth of trees, xylem structure and consequently wood properties remains relatively unexplored. Relatively less is also known about intra-specific adaptive strategies allowing trees to persist in their environments. The main aim of the project proposal is to investigate the influence of environmental factors on wood formation mechanisms and to estimate the adaptive capacity (plasticity) of European beech and Norway spruce to changing environmental conditions in Slovenia. The specific-goals of the project are (I) to investigate mechanisms of cambial productivity and seasonal dynamic of wood formation, (II) to explore environmental influences on tree productivity, wood anatomy and consequently wood properties, (III) to evaluate adaptive capacity (strategies) of European beech and Norway spruces and finally (IV) to establish a model of tree response to changing environmental conditions. For a more accurate understanding of growth processes in trees and adaptation strategies, complementary scientific approaches will be used; i.e. dendrochronology, wood anatomy and as well as wood formation studies. To achieve the goals, the project content is organised into four working packages (WPs). Within WP1 samples will be collected during two years (growth seasons) in weekly intervals from trees at two sites in Slovenia differing in altitudes (Menina planina and Panška reka) in order to prepare samples for observation of cambium phenology and measurements of xylem and phloem growth ring increments. The newly obtained data will complement the data from previous growth seasons. Additionally, seasonal ultrastructural changes in cambium cells will be investigated (with transmission electron microscope), to better understand relations between physiological processes in the cambium and climate. Within WP2 tree-ring width chronologies and chronologies of wood anatomical features/traits (e.g. share of fibres and vessels, vessel surface, vessel density, vessel distribution, etc.) will be established for different forest sites and proveniences. To understand the impact of past environmental conditions on wood production, wood structure and wood properties, the data will be further used for dednroclimatological studies. Samples from international provenance test (where different proveniences grow under similar environmental conditions) will be collected and analysed (in terms of tree ring widths and wood anatomical traits) to gain information about the intra-specific adaptation strategies. Outcomes of WP1 and WP2 will be used within WP3 for modelling the response of tree growth (xylem formation) to anticipated climate change.
Significance for science
The results are supplementing our knowledge about: (I) cambium phenology and seasonal dynamics of radial growth in trees; (II) understanding of seasonal ultrastructural changes in xylem, phloem and cambium cells; (III) impacts of changing environmental conditions on wood structure and characteristics (but also wood properties and quality); (IV) physiology of investigated tree species; (V) sustenance of the forest stands' productivity, conservation of their biodiversity and resistance to stress factors. New methodological approaches were implemented on the field of tissue preparation and analysis as well as statistical evaluation of collected data. Work on the project enabled new connections in domestic and international scientific environment at the field of microscopy, wood anatomy, dendrochronology, phenology etc. In addition, the project enabled strengthening of existing international cooperation’s. The results of the project were presented in scientific papers in national and international journals as well as through poster or oral presentations at scientific conferences and events, and thus contribute to scientific discussion and knowledge exchange, which is a prerequisite for the successful development of science.
Significance for the country
The long-term xylem and phloem formation were used to model the influence of changing environmental conditions on xylem and phloem formation and xylem structure. Xylem anatomy studies will enable a precise evaluation of the influence of past weather events on xylem growth and xylem structure. Such studies are important to understand the influence of on-going global warming events on tree growth of the two most relevant Slovenian and European tree species. At the regional and national levels, the results are important for forest management and the public forestry service across the forest ecosystems of central Europe since they can contribute to a better strategic decision-making. On a larger scale, the results will be useful for knowledge of the perspective and prediction of forest development, which is further relevant from the aspect of dynamics and carbon bounding ratio in forest ecosystems. The content of the project is in agreement with National forest program and the Strategy on the adaptation of Slovenian agriculture and forestry to climate change.
Most important scientific results Interim report, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Interim report, final report
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